Showing posts from February, 2010

Dueling Jennifers - Back to the Future Scene Re-Shot

A more-full report on the 25th anniversary of Back to the Future in Naperville is forthcoming, but one of the things I learned after listening to the "original" Jennifer (Claudia Wells) was that in BTTF 2, they had to re-shoot the opening scene/closing scene from #1 because the actor playing Jennifer changed (Elisabeth Shue in #2). Some smart person on YouTube has put the scenes together.  Pretty incredible job in re-creating the scene.

Garage - Stage 1: Dreaming

We've decided to move on to building a garage this summer.  Yeah...our house DOES NOT HAVE ONE.  Somehow, when we bought the house, there were so many glaring issues/problems that the fact that there wasn't a garage didn't seem like that big of a deal.  When ceilings in a few rooms are falling in, I suppose the lack of a garage doesn't jump out at you as a huge issue. Now that we've remedied **most** of the issues in the house, my thoughts turn outdoors.  This was our first winter in the house and getting in cold icy cars every morning isn't fun, so a garage it shall be! Both Equation Boy/Man and I are going through the process together (they need a garage, too!), and our garages are going to be fairly similar, but with some minor modifications.  They have a driveway from the front of their house, whereas we'll use the alley.   They have a wider lot than us. They want some dormers to make it pretty, I want height to protect the yard from the sun.  (I'

Lou Manati's Follows Up

I wrote one post about Lou's old menu and not 2 hours later they start following me on Twitter.  Pretty nice social media move and one that I can appreciate.  We can get into the merits of what value this is bringing to their organization - and that is a healthy discussion - but I can respect the fact that Lou's has someone monitoring what is being said about their brand online.

Mac and Cheese Recipe - Crusty

One of Nat's besties had a baby recently (a boy!) and Nat - being a busybee - wanted to lend a hand. Unfortunately, the friend lives out of state, so the best we could do was to prepare some meals, freeze 'em, and ship them off with her friend's mom when she went to see her daughter. (If you gave us a nice gift for the birth/baptism/pregnancy - thanks.   I loved it soooooo much!)  However, one of the best gifts anyone gave us during the pregnancy/baby was frozen meals.  We still have some of them in the freezer - they're the gift that keeps on giving!  When Nat is dog tired from battling the babe all day and I have class, so I don't get home until 10 pm, these are saviors.  We had tacos, enchiladas, chicken and salads and even chicken tetrazzini (although it wasn't frozen!).  While I'm certain Nat enjoyed all the "onesies" and such that our friends and family showered on us, I really appreciate the care that goes into the frozen meals.  These cam

25th Anniversary of Back to the Future

25 years?!?  Back to the Future came out 25 years ago?  Apparently so. To celebrate, some high school friends and I are getting together at the  Hollywood Palms Theatre in Naperville  this Saturday to sit down with the original Jennifer Parker (Claudia Wells), Lorraine McFly (Lea Thompson), Dr. Emmit Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and Principal Strickland (James Tolkan). As my friends Matt and Steve pointed out:  There's nothing like a bunch of 30 year old dudes getting geeked up for the original Jennifer - not  Elisabeth Shue from #2 and #2 . Nat is, embarrassingly, a BIGGER BTTF fan than I am, so she's tagging along.  We've bought tickets to the 6 pm show and we'll probably get there early.  Join us, please.  We'll be able to "Save the Clocktower" on the the big screen!  The event's proceeds go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Cute Lou Malnati's Menu

UPDATE:  If you are looking for the recipe I talked about in this post, you can find it here:   Lou Malnati's Salad Dressing Recipe . ------------------------------------------------- I was in our local Lou Malnati's picking up a pie a few nights ago waiting around - ours wasn't 'quite ready'.  I started to read the old framed news article and caught a few cute things.  First, the Chicago Tribune published their salad dressing recipe back in the late 60's.  I took a photo and I'll give it a shot at some point.  Of course, I'll share the results here on the blog. The other item of note was this menu.  How cute is this thing?  It is the original from the day they opened.  A cheese pie.  Sausage and cheese pie.  A few sang-wiches.  And some wine by from the barrel.   Just a single-sided page with 3 columns.  Very simple and straight-forward - unlike today's Lou's menu.   Like a lot of you guys, I've had a secret desire (NEVER TO BE ACTED O

Burnt Ends - Where Have You Been my Entire Life

Nat, the babe, and I just got back from a "Tour de Missouri" including stops in St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City.  We spent a good part of the weekend with Nat's college roomate in Kansas City.  (They actually live in Kansas, but a "Tour de Missouri and Kansas" didn't have the same cachet.) My only goal during the time in Kansas City was bbq.  I had a meeting "downtown" during the day on Friday, so I was on my own for lunch.  I stopped at a place I had been before:  Gates Bar-B-Q .  They do the whole "Hi, may I help you" thing and they have a particularly confusing method of ordering/paying/picking up your chow.  Being a rookie, I think I looked lost.  A nice lady with gold teeth behind me in line told me what to do and what to order.  Her recommendation:  "Burnt ends on bun, but on bread".  That's what I ordered. They were tasty.  Turns, out burnt ends are, for the most part, brisket. Later that night, our friends

My Life for 3 C Batteries

Any parent will tell you what I'm about to tell you:  There are times that I'd give my life for C Batteries.  The pack-n-play vibrates on a C cell.  The swing moves on a C cell.  The vibrating bouncy chair runs on a C cell. I heard someone say it before I was a dad and now I believe it:  If Menards charged $50.00 for just one C cell battery - I'd pay it. Doesn't matter what it costs.  In fact, I think these baby product companies are missing out on profits.  Make a swing that puts my baby to sleep every time....Market the hell out of it...Make me NEED to have one. Then make sure it runs on your own proprietary battery.  Make that sucker last only like 3 weeks.  Make me go out and buy them for $50 a pop. Guess what?  If the swing works?  You'll have me as a customer.  No matter what it costs.

Modern Family

Are you guys watching Modern Family on ABC?  You soooo should be.  It is on Hulu or you can catch it on Wednesday nights on ABC.  The show stars Ed O'Neill as the patriarch of a uniquely-American family. 3 different story lines collide in each episode which include a gay couple with an adopted Asian daughter, a youngish couple with 3 kids and a pretty goofy dad (and requisite hot mama), and Ed - who married a younger hot potato. I'm certainly not doing it justice - nor do any of the "clips" on Hulu.  Nevertheless, I've embedded one below.

Price Tags on Michigan

Up in Michigan, we shop at a grocery store called "The Hilltop".  Well....actually it is named Hardings , but we call it "The Hilltop" because that's what it was called for 15 years.  And it's more fun than "Hardings".  It is a small little store that usually smells like fried chicken.  Seriously.  They must sell a shit-ton of the stuff because you can go in there any time of the day and the deli area is firing up some chicken.  Guess it could smell like worse things. They sell most things you'd need at a lake house: bbq sauce, a variety of buns, sodas, beers, ice, Star Crunches , and the like.  One of the things I've noticed is that they still put price tags on EVERYTHING.  Not on the store shelves.  On the actual products.  And there's this older guy who does it with the old fashioned "gun" just about every time we go in. I thought it was unique to Hardings until we went to a rival store in South Haven and there, too, wer

Tom Thayer's Italian Beef Recipe

TOM’S TAILGATER ITALIAN BEEF COURTESY OF Steve Dahl  and  DAHL.COM Ingredients: One 3 ½ to 4 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast One package of Zesty Italian Salad Dressing and Recipe Mix One 16 oz. jar of hot giardiniera One 16 oz. jar of mild giardiniera One dozen baguettes (French rolls) Directions: In a four-quart Crock-Pot, pour in one bottle of giardiniera. Place the roast on top of the layer of giardiniera. Sprinkle the salad dressing mixture on top of the roast. Add the second bottle of giardiniera to the top of the roast. Cover Crock-Pot and cook on high for 6 to 8 hours. When fork tender, shred the roast in the Crock-Pot and allow it to combine with the other ingredients. Slice the baguettes in half and pile on the beef and giardiniera mixture. ------------------------------------ For the babe's baptism party, we hosted a collection of family and friends back at our house after the church proceedings. We ordered some of the food from Maggiano's in

Red Velvet (The Best, Jerry, the Best!)

As I've mentioned before, I'm not the baker in the house - Nat (when she has time) enjoys it more than I do.  Her mom shared a recipe for "Red Velvet" cupcakes late last year and much to our chagrin - it called for numerous bottles of red food coloring.  We walked down to the Jewels (yes...I said "Jewels".) and plunked down $4 a piece for the little bottle of McCormick's coloring and went on our way - knowing that had to be a better way. Fast forward a few weeks and we found ourselves in Schweppe's on North Avenue near our house.  Schweppe's is a kitchen-supply shop featuring industrial supplies for commercial applications.  They allow the public in - and charge us a bit more than their restaurant customers - but it is still very cheap! They have everything there from spatulas to snow-cone machines to industrial-sized containers of ketchup.  They also happen to have big bottles of Evon's "Red Color" syrup.  It's about $4 for

Nice Merchandising: Ping Pong Balls in the Liquor Aisle

I've read RachelleB's posts  in the past about CVS' odd pairings in the liquor department like Cook's Champaign and KY "Touch Lotion" or Merlot and mouth rinse and laughed along at the merchandising mishaps.  I can imagine the dudes who are tasked with creating these pairs wondering if they'd be good fits. Last week, Nat and I were in a Meijer up in Michigan and it seems that they've gotten this "grocery aisle pairings" a bit more fine tuned.  As we were walking down the liquor aisle, I noticed they have packages of ping pong balls and " Wippety Wipes " (you can barely make them out on the left edge of the photo).   Everything you need for a long night of beer pong, I suppose.   Who ever has the job of finding these companion products at Meijer in Michigan clearly has a stronger finger on the pulse of drinkers than the folks at the CVS in Chicago. It isn't perfect being liquor and not beer, but not bad.

Follow Along on Google Buzz

The web is full of interesting things - probably infinitely more interesting than my posts here.  To get a full sense of what catches my eye across the web, you can now follow me on Google Buzz here .  There's a lot in there including my Twitter account, my shared items from Google Reader, my Picasa photos, YouTube videos and more. I've also put up a link to my Buzz page on the top right - and included a nifty little image that someone was nice enough to make and set free out on the web. Sure I'm biased, but I think there's something worth investing some time in with it.  I live most of my life in the Google Cloud, and this seems to have quite an ambitious road map around Google services.  For me it is a nice fit.  Maybe it will be for you, too? Would love to see you over on Buzz .

Fireplace Progress

Earlier this year, I said we were finally thinking about finishing our fireplaces .  Wanted to share the progress with you.  Still plenty of work to do on this one and the other one, but hopefully before the weekend is out, these will be grouted and ready to roll.  Just in time for the babe's baptism party on Sunday.

12th of February

5 years ago today, Nat and I went out on our first date.  I still remember just about everything about that night.  What she was wearing.  Where she lived. What I was wearing.  What I ate.   Where we sat .  How nervous I was in the cab ride there, etc. The night couldn't have gone any better.  In fact, my life changed that night.  Changed for the better in a big way.  I'll save my mushy-ness for something more personal (like a Google buzz! [kidding, people, kidding]), but I know that asking her out - in a pressure cooker that is the days leading up to Valentine's Day - turned out to be the best decision of my life. Needless to say, I'm a thankful guy for everything she's done for me.    Love you, Nat. Here's to lots more celebrations.  Together.

New Holland Brewing Company in Holland Michigan

Not to be confused with New Belgium Brewing in Colorado, New Holland Brewing is a rapidly expanding Western Michigan brewing outfit based in Holland Michigan.  Home to more than 15 original brews including 4 year-around beers.  It seems that they've recently ventured out into the "spirits" business with a vodka, gin, rum and whiskey.  Quite the alcoholic empire. Nat and I had never been to Holland - we're St. Joe's and South Haven folks with an occasional trip to Saugatuck.  So last week, during our time off, we ventured up 196 to check out Holland and the New Holland Brewing Company. We walked in (with our baby seat in tow), and I was immediately struck by all the pizzas being consumed in the place.  Based on the Yelp reviews, I was expecting pub fare.  Spying our babyseat in tow and knowing we'd most likely have a screaming baby, they dragged us all the way to the back room - upstairs in fact - instead of sitting in the main dining room/bar.  That, alon

Loma Theatre in Coloma Michigan

Coloma Michigan, where my family has been going for over 20 years has a lot of natural beauty.  Most of it involves Paw Paw Lake.  My parents bought their place up there in the late fall of 1989 and one of our first trips was in December.  Being a lake-town, the place was quiet and there wasn't a lot to do. a beacon in the night, the Loma Theatre was open.  The neon sign wasn't working, the marquee was poorly utilized (lots of "5's" for "S's" and such) and the movies were second run at best. I forget which movie we went to (as a family) that night, but I vividly remember walking into one of the 3 cramped theatres and seeing a section of seats roped off with yellow "caution" tape.  About half way through the movie we found out why the tape was there as a portion of the ceiling collapsed in and slammed to the floor.  The place was in rough shape. Since then, I'm not certain what has happened, but the place has been transfo

Back from Michigan - Our Winter Retreat

Just back yesterday from a week of rest - we've been up in Michigan taking the week off.  We did a lot of nothing and loved every minute of it.  Really feel recharged at work this morning after being away all week.   Have to do this more often. We spent time in Holland, St. Joe's (more on those soon) and South Haven.  South Haven is a short drive away from Coloma.  We head there for coffees/sodas in the morning at Cafe Julia  and enjoy the town a bit.  They have these cookies called "The Cookie" which are spectacular.  I think they used to call them "granola clusters" but changed the name at some point.  I can't recommend them enough.  If someone has reverse-engineered the recipe of these things please notify my wife Nat! We always park in the big municipal lot - which during the summers has a wonderful farmer's market and during the winter they turn into a ice rink.  They built this structure a few years back and it really turned out great. This

If You're Not Watching Craig Ferguson...

You're really missing some good comedy.  Seriously. Nat and I don't stay up that late very often, but when I do, I always go to bed with my belly hurting from laughing so much.  Most of the times, like last night, I catch him on Fridays. Some say that "he's the best thing to happen to late night tv since Carson."  He doesn't seem to get too much credit for having a great show, but much like Conan was on Late Night, I suspect he has a very loyal following who hangs on his every show. Craig's show is a bit different than Letterman/Leno/Conan.  He does bits just like them, but the biggest difference is in how the show opens.  He does a long monologue.  Like a REALLY long monologue compared to Jay and Dave.   I never noticed it until a friend (who also works in late night tv) mentioned to it, but indeed, he was right:  sometimes the monologue goes past the 30 minute mark and is broken up with commercials.  In fact, he can carry the entire show by himself

36" Black and Decker Accu-Mark Level with Gecko Grip: Perfect for Hanging Pictures

I mentioned earlier in the year that we received a really nice wood carving for our home from my future-brother-in-law Bill as a Christmas/Wedding present.  Since December 25th, it has had a nice home leaning against the wall on top of our piano.  Nat was getting tired of it not being hung.  I was getting tired of not being hung.  The issue was that on the back, Bill had sunk in two fixed heavy-duty hangers.  The type that you have to put two screws in the wall then try to "hit" the hole on the back.  There wasn't a wire to hang this thing from, so I first considered stringing one of those. Nat's folks were over this weekend and I mentioned to them that I thought that's how I was going to hang it.  However, her mother reminded me that they bought me a level for Christmas last year (2008) that was made for this task:  The 36" Black and Decker Accu-Mark Level with Gecko Grip! The level is, indeed, made for hanging things on the wall.  First, it has this gr

Cracker Jack Prizes: They Stink

Up in Michigan there were a few boxes of Cracker Jack in the pantry.  Like most things up there (and I presume the case is much the same at most people's lake houses), I have NO idea how old it is.  Could be a few months.  Could be a few years. It's just popcorn, carmel and nuts, right?  How bad could it be.  I cracked it open and it was - much to my displeasure - pretty stale.  Before I threw it away, I dumped the rest of it out to see what the prize was. I don't remember what Cracker Jack prizes were when I was a kid, but I have to think they were better than this. A friggin' Minnesota Twins sticker?  Seriously?  What kid is going to be into that?  Not even a Twins fan. Cracker Jack:  Who you crappin?

Pizza Take-Out Tip: Crack the Box

Here's a tip for all of you pizza take-out guys and girls.  After you pick up your pie and get into your car, crack the box lid a bit.  It'll release the steam and keep your crust nice and crisp.  Your windows steam up in the car some, but the overwhelming aroma of sausage and pepperoni more than makes up for it.  Here's the cracked box in my front seat that I picked up Friday from Two Brothers from Italy in Elmhurst. What's that?  You don't pick up your pies?  You get delivery? Sucker.

Goodbye to One of the Last Remnants of my Bachelorhood

Yesterday, we closed on the sale of my condo in Frankfort.  Bittersweet day.  While I'm thrilled to have sold the property during these difficult times in the real estate world, it is sad to close a chapter on my life.  I bought the place in 2003 right after my election to the Village Board.  It was my "first place".  I bought pre-construction and picked out all of the finishes.  I loved that place.  Loved everything about it.  It was "above" a series of commercial stores.  There was an italian restaurant, a bar, a hair salon, a bank, and a Greek breakfast restaurant.  The Village really stepped out when they (we) approved it. After we got married, we moved out.  We had a few false starts with buyers who couldn't close because of mortgage issues, so we ended up renting it for a year plus.  After the babe was on her way, I decided that I wasn't interested in being a landlord any longer.  Couldn't deal with the issues.  Didn't want the stress.

3 Things Always in The Fridge

We're subscribers to the print edition of "bon appetit" magazine.  I know....blame Nat and I for the demise of Gourmet!  Anyway, I don't love the magazine.  Sometimes I find something in there worth clipping, but most of the time not.  One of the features I do enjoy, however, is the section inside the back cover called "FEEDBACK".  They interview a famous (or relatively) famous person about their food peccadilloes and passions.   The questions change depending on who's being interviewed (this month is Stanley Tucci), but one question seems to be in there every month:  Name three things that are always in your refrigerator. I can do mine: giardiniera, peanut butter (yes!  We keep our pb in the fridge and I'm kinda partial to this 'flaxseed pb' from TJ's at right), and "Special Blend" dry Parm/Romano blend from Caputo's Market. is your turn to share with me in the comments.  Only rule:  your items can't inc

My Kind of Unboxing - Babybel Cheese

On plenty of gadget/nerd blogs that I read, I often see "unboxing" of new gadgets/phones/computers.  They're step-by-step photos of un-packing of the new prized piece of technology.  It has always fascinated me that someone would go through the trouble of documenting each piece of packaging.  I don't think that it is for the ' packaging nut ', rather, I think it is said nerds way of showing off a bit on his/her new toy.   Well...good news for you.  Unless you want me to "unbox" my new mitre saw stand, I'm going to skip any such technology documentation.  Instead...I'll share with you something I find a bit more interesting: cheese.  Yes...CHEESE!  My wife LOVES peonies.  I LOVE cheese!  Rather have it than chocolate any day of the week.  Since the day I joined at work, they've always had string cheese in the fridge.  For those afternoon snacks, they've usually filled the bill.  But, when we came back from Christmas break, there was